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Case 3:17-cv-01724-JD Document 115 Filed 04/30/18 Page 1 of 4

4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

7 WADE ANTHONY ROBERTSON, Case No. 17-cv-01724-JD


Plaintiff,
8
ORDER RE MOTIONS TO DISMISS
v.
9
Re: Dkt. Nos. 57, 58
10 RICHARD A. HONN, et al.,
Defendants.
11

12 Pro se plaintiff Wade Anthony Robertson is a former attorney admitted to practice in


Northern District of California
United States District Court

13 California. A federal jury found that he had committed malpractice and breached his fiduciary

14 duties to a business partner, and that he had done so in a manner warranting punitive damages. A

15 federal court of appeals affirmed the verdict. Robertson was disbarred for this egregious

16 misconduct, which he challenges here on a myriad of grounds. The Court dismissed the first

17 amended complaint from the bench, and now provides a fuller statement detailing the

18 shortcomings in the complaint mainly for plaintiff’s guidance should he choose to amend. Dkt.

19 Nos. 48, 106.

20 BACKGROUND

21 Robertson was in a business partnership, W.A.R. LLP, with William C. Cartinhour, Jr.,

22 who is not a lawyer and who is named as a defendant in this case. Eventually there was litigation

23 between the two in the District of Columbia. Cartinhour claimed that Robertson had

24 misrepresented the status of a securities class action that Robertson was working on as an attorney,

25 and which the partnership was backing as a business opportunity. As Robertson himself lays out

26 in his complaint, a federal district court jury found that Robertson had breached a fiduciary duty to

27 Cartinhour and had committed legal malpractice, and it awarded to Cartinhour $3.5 million in

28 compensatory damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages. Dkt. No. 48 ¶ 144. A civil
Case 3:17-cv-01724-JD Document 115 Filed 04/30/18 Page 2 of 4

1 judgment was entered in favor of Cartinhour, and the United States Court of Appeals for the

2 District of Columbia affirmed the judgment. Id. ¶ 91. Attorney disciplinary proceedings before

3 the State Bar of California were initiated and resulted in a recommendation that Robertson be

4 disbarred. Id. ¶¶ 101, 112. The Supreme Court of California filed an order effectively approving

5 the recommendation and disbarment, id. ¶ 115, which was not yet final at the time this lawsuit was

6 filed. Id. ¶ 116.

7 DISCUSSION

8 The complaint is a sprawling mass of disjointed allegations and was dismissed as

9 incomprehensible for that reason. Dkt. No. 113 (motion hearing transcript) at 3:21-23 & 8:11-12.

10 The complaint tries to allege eleven disparate claims for relief against thirty-eight separate

11 defendants in 834 paragraphs (totaling 209 pages) of allegations that are, at best, hard to follow. It

12 includes what is effectively a complaint within a complaint in the form of an alleged claim against
Northern District of California
United States District Court

13 Cartinhour that runs 134 pages long and has its own separate table of contents. Dkt. No. 48 at 34.

14 This claim features an attack on “Cartinhour’s undisclosed serious mental illnesses” and other

15 scurrilous statements by Robertson against the victim who prevailed against him in court. Id. at

16 43-46. The complaint includes a variety of other comments whose relevance is not at all apparent,

17 such as the ones about the California State Bar’s real estate dealings. Id. ¶¶ 780-790. This

18 violates the requirement in Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that the complaint

19 must contain “a short and plain statement” of plaintiff’s claims for relief, and is a proper basis for

20 dismissal.

21 Because plaintiff will be given 45 days from the date of this order to file an amended

22 complaint should he choose to do so, the Court provides further guidance for plaintiff’s next

23 attempt, should there be one. The Court primarily relies on plaintiff’s prayer for relief as a guide

24 for better understanding what it is plaintiff seeks in this case. Dkt. No. 48 at 205-208.

25 The Court rejects as improper any request to review or vacate prior judgments or orders

26 issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or the United States

27 Bankruptcy Court for the District of Columbia. Id. at 205-206. This Court does not sit in review

28 of those courts. The fact that some of the orders or judgments may have been registered in this
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Case 3:17-cv-01724-JD Document 115 Filed 04/30/18 Page 3 of 4

1 district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1963 does not lead to a different result. See F.D.I.C. v. Aaronian,

2 93 F.3d 636, 639 (9th Cir. 1996); Indian Head Nat’l Bank of Nashua v. Brunelle, 689 F.2d 245,

3 249 (1st Cir. 1982). Even assuming jurisdiction were to exist for that, which is itself doubtful,

4 principles of comity and efficient judicial administration weigh definitively against asking a

5 district court to second guess the orders and decisions issued by sister courts. The salient point is

6 that Robertson had a trial before a jury whose verdict was affirmed on appeal. There is no place in

7 our federal system for a disgruntled litigant to seek collateral review before another district court.

8 The rest of plaintiff’s case is an effort to avoid the disbarment consequences of the verdict

9 against him. Specifically, he seeks to escape any “legal effect” from “case No. S237476 in the

10 Supreme Court of California” and “case No. 09-O-19529 in the State Bar Court of the State Bar of

11 California.” Dkt. No. 48 at 206-208. Those cases are the attorney disciplinary proceedings in

12 California, which were pending at the time this case was filed.
Northern District of California
United States District Court

13 Younger abstention precludes consideration of Robertson’s attack on his state discipline

14 orders. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971); Hirsh v. Justice of the Supreme Court of the State

15 of California, 67 F.3d 708 (9th Cir. 1995). Under Younger, “[a]bsent ‘extraordinary

16 circumstances,’ abstention in favor of state judicial proceedings is required if the state proceedings

17 (1) are ongoing, (2) implicate important state interests, and (3) provide the plaintiff an adequate

18 opportunity to litigate federal claims.” Hirsh, 67 F.3d at 712 (citing Middlesex County Ethics

19 Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass’n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982)).

20 As in Hirsh, each of the prerequisites for Younger abstention is satisfied here. For the two

21 requirements that plaintiff contests, our circuit has expressly recognized that “California’s attorney

22 disciplinary proceedings implicate important state interests,” and that the California Supreme

23 Court’s rules relating to Bar Court decisions provide for an adequate opportunity for a plaintiff to

24 present federal constitutional claims. Hirsh, 67 F.3d at 712-13; see also Baffert v. California

25 Horse Racing Board, 332 F.3d 613, 621 (9th Cir. 2003) (that plaintiff “disagrees vigorously with

26 the result that he has achieved thus far in California” does not render the forum inadequate for the

27 litigation of constitutional claims for purposes of determining applicability of Younger abstention).

28 Plaintiff’s arguments to the contrary are rejected as meritless.


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1 Nor has plaintiff established that any of the exceptions to Younger abstention might apply.

2 Our circuit has determined that “one who alleges bias must overcome a presumption of honesty

3 and integrity in those serving as adjudicators,” with “evidence.” Hirsh, 67 F.3d at 713-14

4 (quotations omitted). And the bad faith exception “means that a prosecution has been brought

5 without a reasonable expectation of obtaining a valid conviction” and requires “evidence of bad

6 faith, such as bias against plaintiff, or of a harassing motive.” Baffert, 332 F.3d at 621. Based on

7 the record, the Court concludes that plaintiff has not crossed the necessary bar from “only

8 conjecture,” which is insufficient, Hirsh, 67 F.3d at 714, to actual evidence. See, e.g., Dkt. No. 48

9 ¶ 704 (plaintiff’s allegation that when the State Bar defendants initiated attorney disciplinary

10 proceedings against him in 2012 following the passage of a new dues bill in 2011, “on information

11 and belief they did so because they were motivated by their own pecuniary interests”), and

12 compare with Hirsh, 67 F.3d at 714 (“The fact that fines imposed in attorney disciplinary
Northern District of California
United States District Court

13 proceedings are paid to the treasury of the State Bar does not establish an impermissible financial

14 interest.”).

15 CONCLUSION

16 Defendants’ motions are granted, Dkt. Nos. 57, 58, and plaintiff’s first amended complaint

17 is dismissed. In light of what the Court has seen so far, it has serious doubts that plaintiff will be

18 able to state a plausible claim. Nevertheless, plaintiff may file a second amended complaint by

19 June 14, 2018, that is consistent with this order. All other pending motions are terminated as

20 moot, without prejudice to being renewed at a later time if appropriate.

21 IT IS SO ORDERED.

22 Dated: April 30, 2018

23

24
JAMES DONATO
25 United States District Judge
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